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Archive for April, 2015

O my love, you are as beautiful as Tirzah, Lovely as Jerusalem, Awesome as an army with banners! Song of Songs 6:4 (NKJV)

  1. Bradford Wilcox, who directs the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, wrote in an article[i] in The Washington Post about some of the ways marriage appears to transform men’s approach to work and the way employers treat them.
  2. After marrying, men assume a new identity. As Wilcox writes, “Marriage is one of the last ‘rite[s] of passage into manhood’ remaining in our society, argues sociologist Steven Nock in Marriage in Men’s Lives.” Marriage engenders an ethic of responsibility for his family, as well as a new-found sense of meaning and status in the world. Marriage also encourages men to take their role as providers seriously.
  3. Married men are motivated to maximize their income. Many married men have a different orientation toward work; they work more hours, and make more strategic work choices. Studies find that men increase their work hours after marrying and reduce their hours after divorcing. It’s also why married men are less likely to quit a current job without finding a new job, and they are also less likely to be fired than their single peers.
  4. Married men benefit from the advice and encouragement of their wives. One study appears to support this point, finding that men with better-educated wives earn more, even after controlling for their own education.
  5. Employers like married men with children. Married men are often seen as more responsible and dedicated workers and are rewarded with more opportunities by employers.

Obviously, we would not suggest a man get married simply because of the financial benefits that marriage brings.  At the same time, we would suggest a man enter marriage carefully and consider divorce even more carefully as the benefits or the results can have long-lasting consequences to him and his family.

Father God, bless me and make me a good husband.  The benefits will be seen in a better home, healthier family, and happier children.

[i] http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/04/02/dont-be-a-bachelor-why-married-men-work-harder-and-smarter-and-make-more-money/?postshare=9791427975978392

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How fair is your love, My sister, my spouse! How much better than wine is your love, And the scent of your perfumes Than all spices! Song of Songs 4:10 (NKJV)

An article by W. Bradford Wilcox, and which appeared in The Washington Post,[i] confirms that marriage has a transformative effect on adult behavior, emotional health, and financial well-being—particularly for men, while parenthood is more transformative for women.  According to Wilcox, men who get married work harder and more strategically, and earn more money than their single peers from similar backgrounds.  At the same time, marriage also transforms men’s social worlds, they spend less time with friends and more time with family, and they also go to bars less and to church more.

Wilcox’ research, which was featured in a recent report, “For Richer, For Poorer: How Family Structures Economic Success in America,” indicates that men who are married work about 400 hours more per year  than their single peers with equivalent backgrounds. They also work more strategically.  He cites one Harvard study which found that married men were much less likely than their single peers to quit their current job unless they had lined up another job.  The result is a substantial marriage premium for men.  As Wilcox explains, on average, young married men, aged 28-30, make $15,900 more than their single peers, and married men aged 44-46 make $18,800 more than their single peers.   Wilcox adds that this even after controlling for differences in education, race, ethnicity, regional unemployment, and scores on a test of general knowledge and that it happens for black, Hispanic, and less-educated men in much the same way as it does for men in general.

One study showed gains at work when men are married compared to when the same men were not married and another study of twins found that married twins earned 26 percent more than their identical twins who were not married.  The question is, what makes married men different; what changes them?  Tomorrow we will look at four areas suggested by Wilcox.

Father God, help us to value our marriage for all the benefits it brings emotionally, physically, economically, and above all spiritually.

[i] http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/04/02/dont-be-a-bachelor-why-married-men-work-harder-and-smarter-and-make-more-money/?postshare=9791427975978392

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Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:36 (NKJV)

Here are a few more ideas to teach our children to pray from Children’s pastor Pete Hohmann.[i]

24 hour prayer vigil.  This would work well if you join other parents, and their children.  Kids sign up for a 30-minute time slot and pray around the clock for a specific reason.  This also works well during camps or weekend retreats when all the children are together in one place, or during a school lock-down where teachers, parents, and kids spend an entire night, locked inside a school, both in prayer and playing.

Outreach Prayer. Teach kids how to pray for others, particularly in preparation for some outreach activity such as an evangelistic effort.  If you are aware that the pastor or a member of the church is preparing someone for baptism by studying the bible with them join your children in praying for those studying and those providing the studies.  If your church is mailing fliers to invite the community for an event at the church or if there is an event scheduled spend time praying for those fliers and for each person that will receive them that they may respond and attend the event.

Prayer Retreat. A prayer retreat allows kids to reach deeper levels of intercession.  Plan to have short presentations about prayers, inspirational stories, question and answer periods, and also periods of prayer based on what is being discussed.

Debriefing.  It is good to  debrief times of prayer.  Talk about such things as, what did God show you?  What did you learn?  How did God use you during prayer?  How do you feel?

While prayer should become as natural as breathing, our children need to learn about it: “By your own example teach your children to pray with clear, distinct voice. Teach them to lift their heads from the chair and never to cover their faces with their hands. Thus they can offer their simple prayers, repeating the Lord’s prayer in concert.”[ii]

Father God, help our children to experience and enjoy communion with you through prayer, and may it become as natural as breathing.

[i] http://singles.ag.org/singleparents/spirituallife/?targetBay=d101cc3a-9cb6-411a-95b0-9ed87e198c95&ModID=2&Process=DisplayArticle&RSS_RSSContentID=22938&RSS_OriginatingChannelID=1255&RSS_OriginatingRSSFeedID=4964&RSS_Source=

[ii] White, E.G. Child Guidance, p.522

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Teach them to pray – 2

He will convince parents to look after their children and children to look up to their parents. If they refuse, I’ll come and put the land under a curse.” Malachi 4:6 (MSG)   

Children’s pastor Pete Hohmann[i] gives us a few more suggestions to teach our children to pray.

Prayer Meetings. Weekly prayer meetings could include touching base, in other words, sharing how your week went.  You can also include praise and worship, video clips, global intercession and personal prayer needs.

Prayer Walks.  You can walk around your child’s school stopping to pray for the teachers and students, the principal and the cleaning personnel, the facilities and the playground. You can walk around your church praying for the pastor, the church leaders, the members, and those who visit the church.  Stop at every classroom, the sanctuary, even the foyer asking for a blessing on every person who will be there on that day.  You can also do a prayer walk around your neighborhood, praying for the people in every home.  One other special prayer walk can be a hike in nature, stopping every so often to admire God’s creation and to thank Him for it.  Other places to pray walk may include government offices (city hall, post office, court house, etc.), prisons/jails, places where historic events took place, etc.

Prayer Watches.  As the kids get older, you can try this for a period of time; for instance. 7:00 PM to midnight works well.  Plan prayer activities that change at least every hour (worship, conversational prayer, prayer walks, and refreshments).  If you plan to pray without a break this time will not be enjoyable and will probably become more of a burden than a joyful experience.

In the book Child Guidance we find these words: “Pray much more than you do. Lovingly, tenderly, teach your children to come to God as their heavenly Father. By your example teach them self-control and helpfulness.”[ii]  Prayer does not have to do only in times of need, only kneeling, or only with our eyes closed.  We can teach them, as Jesus told us, to pray always. (Luke 21:36)

Father God, bless our children and may they cultivate a strong faith and trust in you all the days of their lives.

[i] Ibid.

[ii] White, E.G. Child Guidance, p. 478

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But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and don’t try to stop them! People who are like these children belong to God’s kingdom.” Matthew 19:14 (CEV)

Children’s pastor Pete Hohmann[i] says that sometimes we “spiritually abort” a child’s desire to pray.  Did you ever act as though you were spiritually superior to children, or ignored what a child was saying because you didn’t believe that God would speak through them, or preferred to have adults pray for you rather than children?  Did you ever exclude children from participating in prayer activities with adults, or view a child’s prayer as “cute,” but not as an effective means of making a difference, or failed to mentor children and release them to pray?  Here are a few things you can do to mentor and encourage your children, from the time they’re small, to make prayer a personal, daily habit.

Conversational prayer.  Pray short, simple, natural, to the point, “kid” prayers.  Pray for one topic at a time.  Don’t make the language long and complicated but  rather use the words that they understand and use at every stage in their lives.

Praying the Scriptures. Read a Scripture and then turn it back into a prayer to God.  Try praying Psalm 23.

Identificational prayer.  Encourage kids to be more specific in their prayers.  God often speaks to children through mental pictures.  He knows they are concrete thinkers.  When we pray “global;” or “general” prayers we sometimes don’t recognize when they have been answered.  Praying “bless everyone” does not mean as much as “help aunt Mary so that her headache may go away.”

50/50 Prayer.  Teach your children to pray for someone with the same need in a different country.  What do children in another part of the country lack and need?  How about praying for a child they know and doing something to help them meet that need?

Songs as Prayers. Look for songs like “Shine, Jesus, Shine,” or “This little light of mine,”  “Open my eyes, Lord, I want to see Jesus,” or “Pass me not o gentle Savior,” and many more.

Father God, even as we speak to you in prayer, help our children to have this personal conversation with you from the time they are young.

[i] http://singles.ag.org/singleparents/spirituallife/?targetBay=d101cc3a-9cb6-411a-95b0-9ed87e198c95&ModID=2&Process=DisplayArticle&RSS_RSSContentID=22938&RSS_OriginatingChannelID=1255&RSS_OriginatingRSSFeedID=4964&RSS_Source=

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Super Ts of parenting

For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. 1 Samuel 1:27 (NKJV)

Dr. Tim Clinton,[i] president of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), shares what he calls the “super Ts” which are the foundation of any good parenting, a basic guide for all parents on how to build relationship and bring up a happy and healthy child.   It is important to remember that for many of these tasks the single parent will need the help of other adults. No one person can accomplish all these alone.

Time. There is no substitute for every hour, minute, and second of quality time fathers and mothers spend with their children. Kids need heavy doses of you every day if possible.  Love is spelled T.I.M.E.

Touch.  This means a hug and kiss, holding hands, brushing hair, wrestling, high fives, even cuddling on the couch.  Most child experts agree kids need at least eleven touches a day.

Talk.  Find something in common to talk about, ask your child about his or her day, learn something together.

Truth.  It is the parent’s responsibility to ground their children in the truth of God’s word (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).  Read it, live it, teach it.

Tenderness.  Love your children unconditionally, and when it comes to discipline use a soft hand even when children irritate, argue, or disappoint.  Learn the way your child gives and receives love, their love language, and overdose him or her with that love!

Teaching.  Your child is always learning from you, whether you are present or not.  Don’t miss a moment to teach your child important life lessons.

Tenacity.  Kids need structure and stability more than ever, and parents need to be their reference point, an anchor that holds firmly against powerful countercurrents.

Tomorrow.  Give your child the safety of today and the assurance of a better tomorrow, the “blessed hope” of an eternity with Him.  Fill your children’s hearts with hope. There is no better inheritance than a legacy of hope in a godly future.

Father God, help us to be the parents to our children that will ground them in your truth and in the hope of eternity with you.

[i] http://singles.ag.org/singleparents/parentalissues/?targetBay=87e62f4b-fc8a-416e-8971-b6fd3469c2bd&ModID=2&Process=DisplayArticle&RSS_RSSContentID=22864&RSS_OriginatingChannelID=1255&RSS_OriginatingRSSFeedID=4963&RSS_Source=

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Gray divorce

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Old men and old women shall again sit In the streets of Jerusalem, Each one with his staff in his hand Because of great age.” Zechariah 8:4 (NKJV)

Marriages of previous generations were pretty typical.  They married young and stayed together for 60-plus years until death did they part.  Their marriage went through very distinct stages: they were newlyweds, had children, made some job changes, moved to new cities, became empty nesters, retired, and enjoyed the grandchildren. As Julia Shaw[i] writes, “Despite their difficulties, they were a model of how to be dedicated to each other for better or worse, in sickness and health, and in poverty and plenty.”

But with those generations passing away we may also be losing models of lifelong marriage.  Between 1990 and 2010, the divorce rate doubled for people over the age of 50, and it’s expected to go even higher. Some have argued that that once a couple is done with childrearing divorce is a good option for the couple; it doesn’t harm the children since they are now grown.  However, researchers have found that parental divorce during young adulthood makes the “normal stresses” of that period, such as heading to college and moving out of one’s childhood home, feel worse and damages the quality of relationships between parents and kids. Their parents’ divorce prompts in them a kind of identity crisis which leads them to question their childhood, their previous perceptions of their parents, and even the happy memories captured in family photos. In some cases, parents’ divorce is more disruptive to adult children than a parent’s death.

Parental divorce also burdens the children’s own future marriages. Some scholars describe divorce as “contagious.” In fact, one study found that the divorce of a close friend or relative dramatically increased the likelihood of a person’s own marriage ending: study participants “were 75% more likely to become divorced if a friend [or family member] is divorced and 33% more likely to end their marriage if a friend of a friend is divorced.”  Staying together until death is not only for making good memories; it’s a good example for our children.

Father God, may our marriage bring us and our children a lifetime of happiness, good memories, and a lasting example.

[i] http://family-studies.org/divorce-and-lessons-for-a-lifelong-marriage/?utm_source=IFS+Main+List&utm_campaign=d7b7bb2184-Newsletter_77&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c06b05f1ff-d7b7bb2184-104541745

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